The Remains of the Day (1993)


This is a really excellent film! Sir Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson are unspeakable stunning as butler and housemaid to the English Lord Darlington in the years leading up to the Second World War. Hopkins plays Stevens, the master butler, a man so consumed in the duty to his master that he ultimately sacrifices his morals and love by devoting himself entirely to the service of another. Emma Thompson plays Miss Kenton, the head housekeeper, who falls in love with Stevens, challenging where his devotions lie. Stevens' morals are further challenged by his masters' misguided cavorting with powerful Germans involved in the Nazi movement; does he go along on his business in service to his master, or does he step out of his place as servant to say that what Lord Darlington is doing is wrong? Very interesting!

Anthony Hopkins as Stevens, and Emma Thompson as Miss Kenton.

This film was made by the Merchant Ivory powerhouse duo of 1990s filmmaking, who also made Howards End (1992) with a similar cast and I am assured is also excellent. Very curious to see! Anyways, The Remains of the Day allows you to see the true shining talent of Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson, under the measured direction of James Ivory. Though this story has the potential to be very dry, Ivory spins a riveting and intimate tale examining the minutiae of aristocratic servitude, meanwhile keeping the whole thing humming with sensuality, tension, and restrained emotion. Along with the two leads, there is an all-star supporting cast who are allowed to give dynamic and suggestive performances, including Hugh Grant, James Fox, Ben Chaplin, Lena Headley, and Christopher Reeve (further demonstrating the brilliant career his tragic accident cut short).

Stevens, the ultimate Butler.

Miss Kenton, so much constrained passion!

Reeve as the American, Jack Lewis.

Find this film and see it in any capacity you can! Rentable anywhere respectable I'm sure. I got it from the Vancouver Public Library. I have a brand new Criterion DVD of Howards End on order from the VPL too, so I will write about that soon too!

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